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Ballooning Has Become More Popular In A New Generation

By Celina Yin

A balloon floats in the air, and a stream of popcorn comes from it. The popcorn gets carried away by the wind.

Balloonist McKenna Secrist is twenty-one and the youngest hot air balloon pilot in the nation of Washington. Ms. Secrist caught the interest of ballooning before she could remember. She started volunteering on a support crew when she was nine and bought a balloon at fifteen. Longtime balloon enthusiasts hope she will be the leader of a new surge of interest in ballooning after the interest started decreasing since the wave of interest in the 1960s to ‘70s.

A new program opened in Washington which aims to recruit more women and races. Mandy Johnson, an experienced aeronaut and a ballooning teacher said that her list of students this summer was longer than it was in 25 years, and about two thirds of the students were aged twenty to thirty-five. “And about half are women, which is really, really good,” Ms. Johnson commented.

Propane tanks in the gondola make the air inside the “parachute” hotter. Ropes connecting to the balloon’s tip, also known as a parachute valve, let out hot air to make the balloon descend. If the air inside a balloon is 100 degrees hotter than the outside air then the balloon will rise. If the air inside the balloon is less than 100 degrees hotter than the outer air then it will descend and the hot air is let out. The descent will depend on how much the total weight of the balloon and how much weight it holds.

“Every balloon flight is an adventure because you use the winds to navigate where you want to go,” McKenna Secrist said.

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